Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology



First Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Second Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Third Advisor

Mervin Matthew

Relational Format



Since Koss' seminal research in 1985, it has been clear that college women are especially vulnerable to sexual victimization; more than 30% of her sample had experienced the legal definition of rape, which includes completed as well as attempted rape. Since then, several studies have found similar findings. Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski (1987) reported that 15.4% of a sample of college women had experienced rape and 12.1% had experienced attempted rape since the age of 14. Gross, Winslett, Roberts, and Gohm (2006) also found in their college sample that 13.3% of women had experienced rape and 18.2% had experienced attempted rape. Findings also consistently show that over half of college women report having experienced some form of sexual victimization. The emotional and psychological sequelae of rape include PTSD, (Rothbaum, Foa, Riggs, Murdock, & Walsh; 1992), depression, (Atkeson, Calhoun, Resick, & Ellis, 1982), and anxiety (Burgess & Holstrom, 1974). Studies examining contextual variables surrounding sexual victimization have found relationships between victimization and alcohol consumption (Ullman, Karabatsos & Koss, 1999), age of first intercourse (Koss, 1985), and number of sexual partners (Brener, McMahon, Warren, & Douglas, 1999). Recent research involving sorority women reveals that they are even more likely to experience sexual victimization than non-affiliated college women (Kalof, 1993; Minow & Einolf, 2009). Environmental factors such as an increased use of alcohol, especially binge drinking, increased exposure to fraternity men, and increased social activity have been correlated with increased victimization risk (Minow & Einolf, 2009). Sorority women report elevated victimization levels even when these factors are controlled. In order to examine differences in sexual victimization between sorority women and non-sorority women, female participants enrolled at a public university completed online self-reports of sexual victimization, traditional femininity, alcohol use, and sexual assertiveness. While t-tests revealed no significant differences between sorority and non-sorority women regarding sexual victimization in college, logistic regressions revealed that sexual assertiveness and alcohol use were predictive of sexual victimization. Specifically, refusal assertiveness had an odds ratio of .901, overall sexual assertiveness had an odds ratio of .959, and alcohol use had an odds ratio of 1.046. Additionally, a correlation matrix revealed a negative correlation between years in a sorority and sexual assertiveness. These results highlight the importance of understanding the relationships among alcohol, sexual assertiveness, and sexual victimization.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology



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